[iDC] Interactive City: irrelevant mobile entertainment?

Isabelle Arvers zabarvers at bluewin.ch
Mon Aug 21 13:10:46 EDT 2006


I couldn't attend to ISEA this year as i was stuck in Geneva, a not  
so much interactive city!
But, I've been reading all your posts about your deception concerning  
the projects presented at ISEA and related to the idea of play.

For me Karaoke should be a perfect way to criticize a karaoke world,  
if it isn't the case, it might be then irrelevant.

About human interaction, i guess that we had a wonderfull experience,  
not so long ago, with a workshop "Politics of Play" conceived and  
directed by Amy Franceschini in Paris during the Mal au Pixel  
Festival: if you want to have a look : http://www.futurefarmers.com/ 
play/index.html (the website is the documentation of the workshop).

The two games invented during the workshop were entirely dedicated to  
the political, cultural and social situation of Saint Ouen, a  
parisian suburb. Even some people from Saint Ouen participated to our  
games trying to help us...

I really beleive that games and entertainment are a good way to bring  
a critical point of view about the world and I am quite sad to read  
that ISEA projects didn't prove it.


Le 20 août 06 à 18:49, Kevin Hamilton a écrit :

> Getting a lot from the posts this weekend, thanks to all for the  
> lengthy thoughts and references to other critiques in line with  
> this thread. I'm learning a lot.
> A quick note - for those of you interested in the discussion of  
> Situationist influence on new forms, nettime had a couple  
> interesting posts this weekend - first a post of Eyal Weizman's  
> article on the Israeli Defense Forces' application of critical  
> spatial theory (even the derive) to their tactics in Palestine (and  
> implicitly Lebanon, at this point). Then an interesting response  
> from Keith Sanborn. If you don't subscribe look for the IDF thread  
> here (Sanborn's post doesn't appear to be archived yet as of Sunday  
> AM.):
> http://www.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/nettime-l-0608/threads.html
> Weizman's article:
> http://www.frieze.com/feature_single.asp?f=1165
> Also - a question for John - can you say more about what you hope  
> for from a "direct human connection" compared to a technologically  
> mediated exchange? I'm not sure I know what you mean by that. I  
> understand from your tourism example that some technologies are  
> easily applied towards distancing, othering, even colonizing ends.  
> But what is it exactly that happens in your picture when the tech  
> goes away?
> Kevin
> John Hopkins wrote:
>> Hallo iDC'ers -- very nice to finally f2f some of you on Thursday  
>> evening, and at other points during ISEA.  Many conversations to  
>> digest, much inspiration to convert to creative output!  THANKS!
>>> I have visions of techno-hipsters with bluetooth headsets jammed  
>>> in their ears, capturing 15-second video clips of the urban  
>>> "condition" on their phones, and txting knowing ; 's to their  
>>> hipster-doppelganger pals in line behind them on the flaneuric  
>>> boulevard of derives. But I wasn't there, so I don't know for  
>>> sure. Maybe I'm just being harsh. [Another lurker delurks.]
>> not too far off the path, Jeremy...
>> I was most disturbed by the serious lack of interaction with the  
>> 'real' city.  The conference/trade-show steel&glass core of San  
>> Jose is a transplanted and embodied ideology that is part of the  
>> current waves of 'urban renewal' happening in a large number of US  
>> cities (and many post-Mall towns who had their centers blighted by  
>> suburban mega-shopping centers) -- a trend that has been running  
>> for a couple decades with varying degrees of 'success'.  That  
>> artificial core is surrounded by the remains of community, albeit  
>> without a humane central core to orbit around.  The locals reduced  
>> to service jobs life-supporting the artificial core.  What? No  
>> grocery store!? good evidence of unsustainable urban  
>> architecture.  Okay, there was a farmer's market one day a week,  
>> but that seemed to cater to the yuppie set and was not set up to  
>> sustain the area in a meaningful way...  And the large Vietnamese  
>> community (reputedly the largest in the US) has prospered -- were  
>> any representatives from it invited to the RIM conference I wonder?
>> However, outside, and to some degree, interspersed with this quite  
>> inhumane architecture (and ideology) is the REAL city.  The hard- 
>> core chronic street population, the student culture (FWIW), the  
>> Latino porch chill culture (and the WHOLE LATINO CULTURE as  
>> well!!!!), the other cultural communities -- all substantially  
>> ignored.
>> With our global agenda, our techno-sophistry, our clean and sleek  
>> appearances, we blended in seamlessly with the image of Silicon  
>> Valley, but remained somewhat silly looking conferencees with  
>> dangling wired and wire-less appendages and apparently flown in  
>> from some other demographic universe.  incongruous.
>> Of course, seamless integration isn't ever going to happen  
>> anywhere and there are always interstitial moments to reach across  
>> any social barriers.  but why wasn't there a formal interface with  
>> the local Latino or Vietnamese community?  It was nice to check  
>> out the gallery just up from the ICA, but that was the only event  
>> I ran across, aside from the nice vibe of local folks chilling at  
>> the Caesar Chavez park fountains (and the kids playing in the  
>> water with the blue-and-white screen devices from that one zero- 
>> one project).
>> but our general demographic of techno-fetishizing places us in/ 
>> locks us into a particular locus in the contemporary urban US  
>> landscape.
>> some personal reflections on the locative aspects -- I went out on  
>> some initial 'test runs' on several 'official' projects that  
>> friends had initiated.  in all cases there were significant  
>> problems with the technology, and between that and walking around  
>> with headphones I felt very much less connected with the 'pulse of  
>> the city' -- compared, say, to the evening of gallery hopping  
>> which left open significant social spaces for unexpected  
>> encounters with the Other. Now I must say that I do respect  
>> efforts people make to take contemporary technologies and somehow  
>> use them to reclaim social ground.  However, there pops-up in my  
>> mind often the metaphor of "the master's tools.'  and whether the  
>> profound significance of that metaphor has yet to be explored  
>> fully in the context of locative (and other social-space art/ 
>> activist deployments).  Somehow, projects need to take into  
>> account possible permutations of the technology employed that the  
>> user might invoke to totally undermine the expected use -- and  
>> build on that.  I felt that several projects have the air of an  
>> attempted military-like deployment, an aimed-at rigor, a clean  
>> execution of a plan, when warm social spaces are replete with  
>> error, mistake, and humane possibility.
>> Perhaps these are the lessons of imperfect deployment -- what  
>> happens in the social space when the expected technological  
>> deployment doesn't take place.  maybe un-mediated Dialogue?   
>> hmmmm.  I think I'll propose a project with a large technological  
>> infrastructure guaranteed to fail, to breakdown, and in that  
>> interstitial space, use one of those ubiquitous battery chargers  
>> to make tea to facilitate a warm space like the CRUMB crew so  
>> successfully did...
>> I've always believed that when a technology inhibits the  
>> possibility of a direct human connection, that it should be  
>> dispensed with immediately.  Clinging to a device which actually  
>> interrupts some kind of more direct direct connection will  
>> eventually cause a deeper sense of alienation, IMHO...  (the  
>> history of camera-based tourism is a good example...).  Is there a  
>> formula for using the device another way to dispel alienation?
>> okay, a few rapid comments for a Saturday morning...
>> cheers
>> John
>> ps: some earlier critical musings from Riga in 2004, from my  
>> written notes compiled for a short Baptist rant at RAM 5:locative  
>> at RIX-c :http://neoscenes.net/travelog/comments.php?id=32_0_1_0_C
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